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We have constantly and relentlessly pursued this question in our interviews around the world – "Do the great marriages have a Cinderella life?"  And the answer is – drum roll please! – NO!  

Too often, people assume that those who have the most successful marriages live in some kind of la-la land – a perfect world – a place where everything is fair, just, and beautiful – a Nirvana land!  Here's the truth – nothing could be further from the truth!

We have interviewed thousands of successfully married couples in 45 countries and on six of the world's seven continents.  And if there is a "most important lesson" it is this – the most happily married couples have experienced severe challenges to their relationship.

Some of the most successfully married couples we have interviewed over the years have reported to us unimaginable challenges to their marriage.  Couples have shared with us stories about the death of children, financial burdens that nearly destroyed their relationship, the horrors of losing a job, the burdens of serious health issues, the pressures of child rearing problems and the destruction caused by a transfer to another city for a work assignment that neither of them wanted, to name only a few.

These are couples that have been happily and blissfully married for a long time.  These are the couples that know the secrets of a great marriage and a great relationship.  The best marriages, the best relationships we have ever witnessed or interviewed – have all reported to us a litany of the great challenges to their marriage throughout their years together.  

Ah, but the truth is this – the best marriages report that the challenges to their marriage ACTUALLY strengthened their marriage and their relationship.  

The essence of their story is this – "These challenges to our relationship actually made our relationship better!"

So what is the message here?  Like all of the most important messages about love and relationships we have learned, the important message is a simple one – challenges make you stronger.  And in the end, challenges – properly dealt with together as a team – will make your relationship stronger.

People who have gone through the wars of life together will always choose their mate in battle.  People who truly love each other will always say this to us – we are a team and we will always support each in our times of need.  

The Good, the bad, and the ugly – dealing with challenges together is the heart of the best relationships.  

Never, never assume that the best marriages live in some "Cinderella land."  The best marriages have survived heart-wrenching challenges.  Never minimize what the best marriages and relationships have gone through.

The challenges they have experienced have made their relationship stronger.  Never underestimate the power of challenge to the establishment of a great relationship.

By Dr. Charles D. and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz

**For [Link Removed]  .

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Member Comments

    • +1 votes vote up vote up

      Marya1961 wrote Jun 21, 2011
    • Wonderful post!  My husband and I have been married for 26 years, it has been more than challenging.  The day that I came close to death in 2008 was really the epitome of my husband’s strength.  I could not imagine him not being around.

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Vikki Hall wrote Jun 22, 2011
    • I divorced my 1st hubz 20 yrs ago so for me the belief in fairy tales ended. My 2nd hubz and I have been married almost 18 yrs and we HAVE had our challenges. I can confidently say we love, respect, trust and enjoy each other more NOW than at any other point in our marriage.
      It was a battle but it has been worth it heart

      BTW I am sharing this with my kids!

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Allinet48 wrote Jul 2, 2011
    • 31 years this August and yes it was very hard at times. heart

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